Show Review: Wovenhand in Washington DC

wovenhand 1You know you might like a band when you take a train, a bus, a car, another train, and walk several blocks to see them. This is how I feel about Wovenhand, in particular the songs of David Eugene Edwards: worth every bit of fare and footstep. Apparently I was not alone, the realization dawned, as my friend and I eyed the staircase leading to the venue filling with people. Knowing the feelings of fevered anticipation that were beginning to flutter in my heart, and the size of the bar (about half the size of Atlanta’s Earl), my concert savvy friend rushed to the ticket girl upon first word that the “doors” were open, and we made our way front and side stage. From this vantage viewpoint I was able to watch DEE (his fanned nickname) sweat, twitch, chant, yell, proclaim, and basically mesmerize the house down. Not a small feat in the southern part of the north I also recognized.

I’m not saying northerners are stodgy.. But, they haven’t been reared in the Bible belt, where some good hellfire and brimstone preaching, along with a bbq cookout, is part and parcel of a good god fearing weekend. This third time around seeing the band, the first time outside the state of Ga, I wondered if even amongst the fans there might not be some blank stares and stony faces as Edwards broke off in an apoplectic a cappella refrain, “Around His throne, around His throne”..‘what throne?’ I felt the thought hitting me in the back. A very trendy looking girl beside me put my fears to rest early on: “Even if you’re not really into the religious things he says, it’s his passion that makes the songs awesome.” Yes, well said.

Donned in a white cowboy hat and white leisure shoes much like Cousin Eddie’s in “Vacation”, a mustached Edwards could have been the Lone Ranger or another vigilante of the wild west, his noble stead a red Gretsch, and sometimes a Polman banjo/mandolin from the 1800s, his songs riding in to rescue us all from the doldrums, from a feeling of living a little below the Mason Dixon line if you will. Darkness, depression, apathy–they skedaddled at the opening number, “Winter Shaker”(Mosaic album):

The circle is vicious of
Thoughts altogether vain
Haunted by battles lost
Still living on Indian land
I clap my dirty hands
All his glory
All his glory

On Indian land indeed we were, the influence of his home in Colorado felt with chants and some moves I haven’t seen since “Dances with wolves.”  With songs that reckon the dark with the light, we continued to travel to places far and wide, over the ocean, into gypsy villages, deserts and forests alike, with searing lyricism, drumbeats and guitar solos that destroyed and rebuilt the atmosphere simultaneously( imagine a series of bombs at the Berlin wall and there was the final jam). Couched between the opening glimpse of glory and the final tearing down of personal fortresses were many songs from their latest release, The Threshing Floor–“Sinking hands“, “His rest“, an extremely convincing “Holy measure”, “Your Russia” from their self-titled album and “Tin finger” from Consider the Birds.

Edwards plowed thru the numbers with an instinctual verve giving voice to the cataclysmic, closer to the mark than ever. It seemed the crowd’s only regret was that we could not continue together into further reaches of the night. My personal journey thru the dark streets of dc ended with a fluorescently lit ride on the metro, a smile on my face, and some songs in my heart– Far from home, but not so much anymore.